Saturday, March 26, 2016

Thanks, Obama John Bellairs

Now that my Saturday morning volunteer gig is over until October, I don't have to get up at half-past-seven in order to travel downtown. I typically set my alarm for eleven AM so I can listen to Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me!, which is a perfect coda to the week for a current events nerd. During this week's show, the special guest portion with bassist Esperanza Spalding, featured a question about Smead Jolley, a baseball player whose main claim to fame is having committed three errors on one play (the guy was apparently a monster hitter, though, so he would have made a fantastic designated hitter, if that had been an option back then).

I'm not a big sportball fan at all, but I actually knew about Smead, because I'm a huge fan of John Bellairs, whose The Face in the Frost is a particular favorite of mine, a short novel which happens to be simultaneously comical and unsettling. The book's protagonists, Prospero (but not the one you're thinking of) and Roger Bacon are two aged wizards who have to put aside their whimsical pursuits, such as watching 20th century baseball games with their magic mirrors, in order to investigate the machinations of a mysterious enemy which is out of their league (heh). Smead's name comes up when Roger Bacon recounts his misadventure with the brazen head.

I reread The Face in the Frost every couple of years. It's a quick read that gives me much pleasure- the funny bits are very funny, the horror bits really atmospheric without being gory or distasteful. The ending of the book is a bit of a letdown on first reading, being abrupt and vague, but on re-reading it begins to make sense, the mysterious antagonist is way too powerful for our protagonists to take on by themselves, so the final struggle takes place on multiple fronts, with only one being 'onstage'. At any rate, if you're a fan of 'weird' fiction of a somewhat comical bent, it's a great read, and an even better introduction to Smead Jolley.


M. Bouffant said...

Alarm clocks are the very instrument of the capitalist devil! Don't let those tote-baggers tell you when to wake up; podcast it.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

You know, when I really need to get up, I set the kidney clock. Also, I work for a not-for-profit, so I left the capitalist world behind a long time ago.

Oddly enough, for a guy who works nights, by nature I tend to be a morning person.

mikey said...

In 1986, San Francisco Giants Catcher Bob Brenly was pressed into service starting at 3d base. In a game against Atlanta, he famously made FOUR errors in one inning, including two on one play. Of course, in typical baseball storybook fashion, he hit a game winning home run in the bottom of the ninth inning.

You can, as they say, look it up...